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Colon Cancer can be prevented with Early Colonoscopy Screening

March 14th, 2006

Colon Cancer can be prevented with Early Colonoscopy Screening

American College of Gastroenterology

Experts from the American College of Gastroenterology say that not enough people in the United States get screened for color cancer.

Katie Couric host on NBC’s Today show lost her husband, Jay, to colorectal cancer in 1998.  Researchers have noticed a slight increase for people getting screened with a colonoscopy since she has become an advocate for the disease.  Researchers from the University of Michigan have called it “The Couric Effect.”

Although Couric has helped gain awareness and increased the screening for colon cancer there is still a shortfall in the number of people that get a colonoscopy.  The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention in 2002 said that there were only 41 percent of men and women over the age of 50 who had colonoscopy screenings in the last five years. 

 

“We know that colon cancer screening saves lives. Yet colorectal screening rates remain very low even though Medicare and many private plans pay for screening tests,” said Dr. Jack DiPalma who is President of the American College of Gastroenterology.

Part of the reason for people not getting screenings is that it is not a comfortable and simple procedure.  Another obstacle is that Medicare makes it more difficult to get a colonoscopy in the elderly patients that need it the most. 

 

Dr. DiPalma said, "Pending legislation in the U.S. Congress, such as the Colon Cancer Screen for Life Act (S.1010/H.R. 1632), promises to remove Medicare’s barriers to screening, but only one small improvement, the waiver of the Medicare deductible, was approved for 2006, so much remains to be done."

The American Cancer Society said that there is an estimated 148,000 people in the United States that are diagnosed with colorectal cancer every year.  There will be around 55,000 deaths caused by colon cancer.

The reason that early screening can save lives is that it can be treated.  When a colonoscopy is performed they look inside the colon for pre-cancerous growths that are called polyps.  Colon cancer is prevented when the growths or polyps are removed early during the colonoscopy screening.

 

The American College of Gastroenterology recommends that people over the age of 50 get a colonoscopy screening every 10 years.  They also say that other alternative screenings are available.  There is an annual stool test for blood and also a flexible sigmoidoscopic exam that is every 5 years.  The sigmoidoscopic exam however does not allow for the image and removal of the polyps.

If you have a family history of colon cancer it is recommend that you start at age 40 or 10 years younger then the age of the youngest relative who was first diagnosed with colon cancer.  African Americans should begin screenings at the age of 45.

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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                                            Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:48 PM